Tone It Up Tuesday #20 – Fitness Challenge #5 – Do More by Doing Less

If you don’t know the true history behind this holiday, note that it’s not all about the cervezas and tortilla chips. Please click here to learn more. Either way, we’re here on the first Tuesday of the month to review last month’s fitness goals, set new ones, and set for the fifth fitness challenge for the year. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can click here or scroll to the bottom of the page to find the other four fitness challenges thus far.

April Review
Last month I aimed to do some HIIT training and you can read about my experiences with it here, here, and here if you’d like. The final outcome was that I plan to use some Metabolic Strength Training through HIIT while I travel. This month I don’t know if I will be traveling for any workshops, but I do have one scheduled for the first full weekend in June and I can’t wait to deploy that workout again!

I also completed my mileage goal with the help of some biking, which I plan to do much more of in the month to come. I suffered some set backs with my other training due to the overload of teaching last month and also that dreaded overuse injury that I still deal with from time to time thanks to my shoes which desperately need to be replaced…..that’s coming in May as well.

New For May
I plan to keep things about the same this month. Here is a recap of the program I’m using with some updates:

  • 20 modified push-ups
  • Pilates ring exercises for biceps and lats 3 sets of 20 each exercise and each side rotating
  • 20 physio ball hamstrings curls
  • 20 bird dogs each side with opposite arm and leg
  • 20 Pilates scissors
  • Three Mondays in May walk the 4.13 mile loop at Greenfield Lake with Brittany and run one of the 4 miles (first two Mondays will be miles 2-3, last Monday will be mile 1-2). (yesterday=check)
  • Log a total of 80 miles or more (that’s 20 miles more than last month’s goal, but the addition of biking will help with that, plus it’s slightly more than May 2014:79.5miles)
  • 50 forward lunges with rotation while holding the Pilates ring (25 each side)
  • 5-10 each side balancing single leg wood choppers with the Pilates ring
  • 20 repetitions of supine hip add/abduction

I also plan to ride the bike for at least 10 miles each week. That’s not a lot, but my good route is about 14 miles and my short split route is about 6 miles total.

Cautions for May
Things I need to be concerned about this month include watching my overuse injury of my hip to make sure it doesn’t flare up again; keep my teaching and exercising within reason; get new shoes; and keep things up while I travel. I’m going to my mom’s house for several days and driving there and back in the middle of the month. She will also be here for a week at the end of the month and I have the little guy’s birthday which always seems to throw a wrench in things.

Resistance Training Days this month: 5/3, 5/6, 5/9, (skip 5/12 for teaching), 5/15, 5/18, 5/21, 5/24, 5/27, and 5/30.

Fitness Challenge #5
From the title of this post, you may think that this is about HIIT training again, but it’s not. Have you seen the annual 30×30 challenge going around again? They ask you to get outside and into nature for 30 minutes a day for 30 days of May….which is funny because May has 31 days. Our challenge this month involves this 30×30 challenge, even though we’re already 5 days into the month. Your job this month is to look at your original goal and see how getting outside can make that goal happen. Then, dedicate 30 minutes each day to getting outside and getting it done! Remember that you must post about your plan and/or experience with the challenge in the comments to qualify for the end of the year giveaway and it’s not too late to start. Just click the links below.

For me, I want to be stronger. This means a lot to me as far as getting outdoors and into nature. I am trying to keep all of my runs, walks, and rides outside and in parks or other non urban areas. Sunday I did my resistance training workout in my backyard. Monday I was at Greenfield Lake for the walk/run with Brittany. Today I plan to take my evening yoga class outdoors. Also, I am working on my gardens (wait to see photos of that later this week). The fresh herbs and vegetables and fruits we are planting in our yards are helping us to get stronger as a family and me to get healthier and stronger in my food choices. Weeding also takes some serious fortitude of the body to stay in squatting positions. So each day I am not exercising in a green space, I will be weeding in a green space. And if I have neither to do each day I will get back to my meditations in an outdoor location. That way I can commune with nature a little more.

I will put down all of my other duties for that 30 minutes each day to do more for myself by doing less of tv, computer, etc.

How can getting outdoors benefit your 2015 goal?

Fitness Challenge #1
Fitness Challenge #2
Fitness Challenge #3
Fitness Challenge #4

Tone It Up Tuesday #19 – Fitness Challenge #4 – Are you HIITing it?

Okay, I’m going to say it again….Can you believe it’s already

I cannot! And not just April, but the 7th….a whole week in and we’re finally getting to the fitness challenge for the month. Next year I’m going to have to reconsider setting this up for the first day of the month instead of just the first Tuesday.

Let’s back pedal a little and get into how we’re doing so far:

Fitness Challenge #1 – Choose a goal; a word to describe that goal and what we hoped to get out of this year. Well, we’re 1/4 of the way done and my word was STRONGER. I posted recently (see here) about how amazing my arms are looking to me and how overall I’m feeling stronger via my workouts. But in terms of wellness (mental, spiritual, emotional, etc), there are still areas in which I want to get stronger. There are areas in my fitness I want to improve more of too and we’ll talk about that in this month’s workout plan.

Fitness Challenge #2 – Try to do more fitness for fun. This is an area in which I have really fallen short this year. I have been outdoors playing with my kids and indoors playing with my kids and just overall trying to play more, but in the grand scheme of things I haven’t hit that goal. I have used my rollerblades exactly once and they’re back to sitting in the garage. And I’ve yet to get my jump rope or hop back on the bike. The weather is really warming up and we’re doing more outdoors, so I’m going to keep playing with this.

Fitness Challenge #3 – Make yourself accountable to someone else/get some support. Well, Brittany and I have met every Monday, rain or shine, to walk. We had one Monday where we walked at the mall and didn’t hit our target distance and another Monday where I had to haul my 25+lb son on my back just to get the walk in because I was short my double stroller. The point is that we are there for each other. Yesterday was our Monday walk day and it was the first day that we incorporated a 1 mile run into the walk. It was slower because Brittany has not been running like I have and she had to pee. But I supported her and encouraged her to get through by giving her time updates and pointing out the short distance we had left to go. We made it! It helps me be accountable too. There are some Mondays that, after traveling all weekend, I just want to sit on the couch and watch tv all day. But knowing that I am meeting someone else to workout makes me get up and get going. Next week our run will fall earlier in the walk and maybe we can improve our times. (Check us/me out over at MapMyRun!)

So, that brings us to the APRIL TRAINING PLAN

  • 20 modified push-ups
  • Pilates ring exercises for biceps and lats 3 sets of 20 each exercise and each side rotating
  • 20 physio ball hamstrings curls
  • 20 bird dogs each side with opposite arm and leg
  • 20 Pilates scissors
  • Every Monday in April walk the 4.13 mile loop at Greenfield Lake with Brittany and run one of the 4 miles. (yesterday=check)
  • Log a total of 60 miles or more (that’s 10 miles more than last month’s goal, but I hit it and then some; 52.35 miles in March)
  • To the above resistance training (because none of it has become too easy yet other than the noted exceptions with the Pilates ring) add 50 forward lunges with rotation while holding the Pilates ring (25 each side)
    I walk through to the next lunge without stepping together on each.
  • Add also 5-10 each side balancing single leg wood choppers with the Pilates ring
    Something like this…only taking my time to make it smooth and keeping the up leg bent behind me
  • Add also 20 repetitions of supine hip add/abduction. I couldn’t find a good photo for this one. Basically you lay on your back with your legs in table top and engage the core by pulling your navel to your spine and zipping up the pelvic floor. Then you slowly open and close the legs while keeping them in table top. This was given to me by my midwife after my second son was born to help with the rectus diastis.

You may, or may not, realize that I cut the Warrior Series out of my workout plan here. As I said last week, the yoga teaching I’m doing is kicking my butt, but even more so, I’m finding out that I’m not getting enough out of my static postures. Just as I had learned back in December, the ability to SQUAT wasn’t coming out fully in my postures. This is why I have swapped them for the lunges. My every third day workout is still meeting my rest demands, but there’s even more that I want to do. So, without further ado…..

Fitness Challenge #4

This topic is rather pertinent for the work I’ve been doing lately. And most of it has to do with HIIT training. If you’re unfamiliar with HIIT training it’s basically interval training. So, instead of just substituting the 15 sets of stairs on the rainy days, I’m going to just flat out add in a little higher intensity training throughout the month of April. I am planning 3 HIIT days total this month. The 10th, the 20th, and the 30th to make it even. Why? Well, because adding intervals and upping the intensity of your workout from time to time can help you to overcome fitness plateaus.

Since December I have been stuck in a rut with those same 20 push-ups and I have not been able to get to where I feel ready to tackle burpee’s on the regular. Despite the addition of new exercises, more cardio training, and the currently 4 hours of yoga teaching each week, I still feel like I’m not reaching my true fitness potential. So, HIIT it is for those three days. On each of those days I will try to post my HIIT workout and I’ve included several links to HIIT articles for your review below.

As HIIT training may not be for you, your challenge this month is to just take 3 days, any 3 days, and turn up the heat on one part of your workout. Maybe you will choose to do a circuit with little rest for a few of your exercises. Maybe you will add some intervals to your cardio. Maybe you will take it up a notch with some plyos. You choose what is right for your training.

Where could you use more intensity in your training?

Understanding HIIT
HIIT Strength Conditioning
HIIT Nutrition

Tone It Up Tuesday #16 – Gear for the Ladies

Welcome to March everyone! 
Is your month coming in like a lion or a lamb?
Cutest bento lunch for kids I’ve seen in awhile!

In Wilmington the weather is very confused as to what it wants to do. One day it’s very cold, the next I’m wearing shorts, then it’s raining, then it’s 75….who knows what to expect next! I have three big things to talk about this week:

  1. Goals for March Training
  2. Fitness Challenge #3
  3. The Big Give Away Prize

Let’s take it from the top!

Goals for March Training
You may remember last year when I was slightly drunk with enthusiasm….or maybe delusional when I made the goal to accomplish 1000 miles by the end of the year. Yeah, that fell through big time due to so many different factors that I have learned not to set my sights so high. This year I’ve been using SMART goal setting techniques and making each month build upon the last.

Currently I am doing my dedicated exercises every three days and that includes:

  • 20 modified push-ups
  • Warrior series 12 breaths each pose and each side
  • Pilates ring exercises for biceps and lats 3 sets of 20 each exercise and each side rotating
  • 20 physio ball hamstrings curls

I almost reached my goal last month of running no less than 2.08 miles on each of my runs, but fell short on a run while in Tulsa. I did make it up to over 3 miles by the end of the month, but have fallen short on the 4 or more days a week of aerobic training due to weather. And, unfortunately, I missed out on much of the exercise for fun (other than playing with my kiddos) at least once a week due to weather.

So, I’m hoping that March will bring me some better weather days (like yesterday) that will help me on my way. Some new goals for March include the following:

  • Run the stairs at least 15 times up and down on days I am not running or walking outdoors (that’s today)
  • Every Monday in March walk the 4.13 mile loop at Greenfield Lake with Brittany (yesterday=check)
  • Log a total of 50 miles or more (that’s the amount I did between January and February, but with the Monday walk each week it should get boosted easily)
  • To the above resistance training (because none of it has become too easy yet other than the noted exceptions with the Pilates ring) add Bird Dogs (20 each side with opposite arm and leg) and 20 Pilates scissors (that’s 10 each leg)


Bird Dog – Great for working the multifidus muscles of the back
Pilates Scissors – Great for working the abdominals and improving hip mobility, just keep the head neutral

Fitness Challenge #3
We’re into our third month and honestly, I’m feeling great about how strong I find myself to be on most days. However, I had a little bit of a moment this weekend while helping my husband with construction projects. I just don’t lift weights at this moment and while I can lift my own body weight, barn doors are a little bit of a challenge.

This month is when most of the people fall off of the bandwagon if they haven’t already. Something happens after Spring Break that sends people back into old routines, so your fitness challenge this month is to find a support system to keep you accountable. I did this by planning my Monday walks with a friend of mine. She and I used to live down the street from each other and we walked almost daily. A year ago I moved across town and, while she has moved closer since then, we still don’t walk daily as we did before. She also wants to get back into running more, so our plan is to use our 4 mile course to start with walking and then next month start running the first mile and walking the remaining three together. We will build from there, but even if we do other stuff throughout the week, we have one day that we are accountable to show up and do it with someone else. We depend on each other!

If you haven’t joined our challenge yet, go back and check out the other two….it’s not too late! All you have to do this month is make a pact with a friend to be accountable one day a week for your activity. It can be anything you want it to be! Then comment below and tell us how you are doing and who you’re doing it with. Remember that you have to also follow the blog (see that link to the right?) to be eligible for the end of the year give away. Full rules in these two links:

The Big Give Away Prize
So, that brings us to the final item on our agenda for today…the announcement of the prize! I’ve done a lot of thinking and one thing that would really help me in life is access to more gear. Gear being fitness clothes, shoes, quality sports bras, and other random equipment. One of my favorite places to shop for some of this stuff is Title 9 Sports. I mentioned about one of their bras here. So, to empower the rest of you to get something you might need or want to improve your performance next year, I will be giving away a $50 gift card to one random participant who completes all 12 challenges. Please see the link to Fitness Challenge #1 above for the complete rules of participation. I hope you’ll join us in having a happier and healthier 2015!
Who is your fitness support?
For what and how will you keep each other accountable?
*Special note that this blog is not officially sponsored by Title 9 Sports*

Fast Friday Tips: Nayoya No-No

It is Friday and my upper body is asking for a break due to the push-ups and extra yoga I’ve been doing…..this makes me a little nervous for my next workout tomorrow (Valentine’s Day), but I love my body enough to give it the gift of health and not quit on my routine. Yesterday I was able to try out my rollerblades and I may give them another whirl this weekend, but you’ll hear more about that on Tuesday. Today it’s time for a quick review of my Pilates ring on this edition of Fast Friday.

You can read my official review on Amazon of this product here, but here are the 5 big things I’d like to tell you about the Nayoya Pilates Ring – Premium Power Resistance Full Body Toning Fitness Circle.

  1. The ring is not very sturdy. It has shown serious signs of wear and tear and I’ve had it less than two months and only have been really using it seriously the last two weeks.
  2. The pads are too big. When I perform the exercise for my biceps by placing the ring up near my shoulder, it constantly slips because the pads are just too large.
  3. It doesn’t feel nice. The materials are sort of sticky feeling and, as other reviewers noted, it does have a smell (but I don’t use it much near my face).
  4. It isn’t very strong.  At least one other company that I had hoped to receive a Pilates ring from offers different levels of resistance. This one I would guess is close to the “light” resistance level, but I’m not sure that most people would feel resistance with the ring I have. Perhaps I’m bias as I have used the ones in fitness centers and Pilates studios over the years. 
  5. The cost is not an advantage. The cost of this Pilates ring is advertised as $28.47, but down from a list price of $44.97. NEVER in my wildest dreams would I have paid $45 for this Pilates ring! The two that I have listed below are much better quality and not nearly as costly.

If you’re going to purchase fitness equipment for your home, I recommend these three steps:

  • Determine if you will actually use it – you know, like the treadmill you’ve seen at someone’s house that doubles as a clothes rack….
  • Weigh the cost of the equipment against the cost of joining a facility that has all of the equipment you might want, plus professionals who can answer your questions about using it properly.
  • Ask a professional and buy where they do.

Most fitness centers that I have worked for purchase their equipment from companies like PerformBetter and Power-Systems. These are the two places that I investigated getting a new Pilates ring for my future use. They have professional grade equipment at reasonable prices. Check at your local gym and you’ll probably find something from either of their catalogs on the fitness floor or in a group exercise studio. Here are the links to the Pilates rings:
PerformBetter Yoga and Pilates Accessories
Power-Systems Pilates Rings

As you can see, comparable price and Power Systems offers three resistance levels. I plan to purchase the firm resistance as that is the one I am used to using at facilities I have taught at. I will keep this one because my son likes to play with it and who doesn’t want to encourage their kids to try new exercises?!

Where do you buy your fitness equipment?
Have you ever worked with a Pilates ring before?